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cumar Nov 4th, 2009 08:25 PM

Botswana in November end
Hello all,

I'm interested in trying out Botswana for wildlife photography - primarily cats, wouldn't mind some birds. Planning a trip Nov 22-28th 2009, for a week. I was reading on various threads here; it seems like Chief's camp and Kwara might be best bet for cats. Is that true?

I have been to Kenya many times, and to Tanzania once, again for photography. Love Mara and Ndutu. I would really appreciate your suggestions.


PacoAhedo Nov 4th, 2009 11:18 PM

Hi Senthil,

I don't know about Chief´s camp, never been there, but i went to Botswana in November 07.The last 4 days of our trip where at the Kwara concession and our experience was great.

We where lucky with our cats sigths.We found a family of 4 cheetahs and spend one full afternoon with them.
The leopards where also fantastic with 3 very nice sights of 2 different leopards and also plenty of lions,some of them interacting with hyenas. General wildlife was also plenty and very nice.We missed a big pack of wild dogs by one day.

November is not high season and you can have some rain ,like we had ,but our game viewing was still fantastic.
If you don't mind some birds, then November is a great month.Most migrants have returned and you can go to the Godikwe herony to see the storks and herons nesting. Kwara is perfectly located close to the lagoon and they have nice boats to take you there.

I also love The Mara and my experience at Ndutu.I think you have to work harder in Botswana to find the cats but when you find them is wonderful to experience the sights with no more than 3 vehicles around.


spassvogel Nov 5th, 2009 10:26 AM

Well, we spent 2 nights at Chief's camp last Nov (beginning Nov) and it was BONE DRY! The mokoros had difficulties reaching camp. The cat sightings were NOT THAT fantastic - we saw 2 lionesses with their 4 cubs and seareched for rhino which we didn't see.

Frankly - 2 nights/days don't offer a thorough experience/impression wildlife wise but also season wise as normally Nov should be getting wet. So I would definitely NOT advise here on weather and cats - seemingly it's all luck of the draw.

I visited Kwara a couple of years back and we did not see leopard there.

Botswana is a fantastic destination - generally speaking. Photographing cats: There is no better place than Sabi Sand in South Africa and here my favourites are foremost LONDOLOZI followed by Sabi Sabi and Lion Sands as well as Leoprad Hills! Leopard sightings are guaranteed at LONDO! The same with lion. SS is difficult with Cheetahs due to the terrain - the chance to see them is best at Lebala and Laggon (both KWANDO/BOTSWANA)

Happy planning!


cumar Nov 5th, 2009 03:47 PM

Thanks a lot for the replies. I was trying to get a 4x4 exclusively for myself/us (likely I would be going alone or with another person) so that I/we can spend as much time we want with the animals photographing rather than be clubbed with other who may not be there for photography. But the addl cost is significant. Also, Chief's camp is expensive.

SV - you are making me seriously consider going to SA instead of Botswana. Not sure whether Nov end would be a good time to go to the places you mentioned. Would appreciate more info.


walrus Nov 5th, 2009 11:29 PM


Just a few words to give you fresh information regarding the Kwando concessions. I was there, at Kwara and Lebala, for 12 nights 2 weeks ago.
At Kwara, I saw 8 lions, 6 wild dogs, 3 leopards (1 excellent sighting, 2 good ones)+ serval. Actually due to more water than usual, it's difficult to reach the plains where you find the cheetahs, so I only had a glimpse of a very shy female.
Not too bad for six days,isn't it?
I spent the other 6 nights at Lebala where I saw only 4 lions, 5 cheetahs, 3 leopards (1 tremandous sighting, 2 not too good)+ servals and caracal and hundreds of elephants and water birds. I was not lucky enough to see the dogs, but they are there at Lebala and Lagoon.
On the 2 places never more than 3 cars and often only one, mine.
So my advice, go to Lebala or Lagoon where cheetahs and leopards are almost guaranteed.



spassvogel Nov 6th, 2009 08:04 AM

As stated I have visited both the Kwando camps (all except Lt. Kwara) in Oct and Sabi Sand/Londolozi in April.
LONDO is Leopard country - as most of Sabi Sands. LONDO by far is outstanding as the leopards there are almost resident and extremely well adapted to their vehicles. Particularly John Varty has trained the guides and has out a huge effort into getting the leopards used to the vehicles particularly the leopardesses with their cubs since the early 80ies.

Regarding the LONO-leopards: A friend goes there 4 times a year for a week in order to meet with "her" leopards.

Here you can find 2 pics hubs made during our stay at LONDO:

I must correct myself: We saw one leopardess while staying at Chief's:

These are the pics from the lionesses with cubs at Chief's:

There are far more pics to come from the leopards as well as from tiny lion cubs (eyes still blueish) - all Londo - but due to lack of time we are still in the process of evaluating and editing as pics are made in RAW.

If I were in your shoes - and budget is obviously not a huge concern I would either stick with the Kwando camps (Lebala, Laggon and Kwara) and hope for the best or get 2 more days and go to Sabi Sand followed by Lebala or Laggon.

Here is another link which gets you to Djuma reserve in Sabi Sand which also has great leopard encounters but the lions are very rare (the Mapogo coalition rules that area) and almost lacks cheetahs:
Here you can do real-time game drives for a couple of days in order to evaluate SS leopard sightings - generally speaking.

As you say you are a cataholic and dedicates one week to just photograph big cats a real treat would be a combo of Bot and SA. But for that you should have at least 5 days in BOT and 4 in SA.

Happy planning!


cumar Nov 10th, 2009 07:29 PM

Thanks a lot for all the info.

At last, I decided to go back to my usual place - Mara. I'm traveling alone and the prices were even higher. A few of my friends have expressed interest to go to Botswana next year. Hopefully I can make it.

Thanks once again.

spassvogel Nov 11th, 2009 05:01 AM

Good choice - Mara never disappoints! And yes - it's becoming outragously expensive particularly when you add the reserve/conserv fees :-( - only a few exceptions which keep it low key.

Jambo and Karibu!


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